EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

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EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by EX5_etc » Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:52 am

1: Introduction

EPROM chips are definitely a thing of the past and may even look like exotic devices to hobbyists and enthusiasts of old computers and synthesizers. A chip with a window so that you can see what is inside? Amazing !! Why don't they make them like this today?

Everyone that has used one knows that the little circular window is there out of necessity, not because it makes the chip look cool. Erasable Programmable Read Only Memories (EPROMs) can be written and erased but that is not as easy as it sounds. We must use light to erase them, UV light to be exact. I won't get into the physics of it, you can find the details online if you care to educate yourself. In a similar way you cannot simply plug them in the end product and program them as we do today with modern read-only memory chips, by flashing them. You need a programmer to do that.

Over the years we have occasionally discussed on this forum as well as on ex5tech.com about EPROM programmers and their use in maintaining and/or upgrading older equipment. There are many options out there, some cheap and some very expensive. All require software to operate and each complete package follows the old quote "you get what you pay for" very closely.

A few years ago I decided to buy a programmer in order to make back-ups of the EPROM chips found inside some high-end Yamaha products. I had heard that as time went by those chips could partially erase themselves. I never had one fail but that did not stop me from thinking, what if? Upon checking what chips Yamaha had used and what was available on the market at the time, I decided to buy a cheap Willem EPROM programmer that requires a parallel port to be available in the host computer. There were some USB interfaced programmers in the market but none could offer (for a low purchase price) the ability to program 42-pin chips, the 27C800, used in the EX-series and some Yamaha samplers.

I did preliminary tests with that programmer and some chips under WinXP and everything appeared to be working but I never tried to program anything and check the result. Recently I went through those advanced tests on a Win7 machine and I was hit with a rather unpleasant surprise. Eventually I recovered but not before some additional money had been spent, a lot of time had been wasted and a great deal of frustration had been met with. When everything was over I thought that it could perhaps be of some help to other members of the forum to have a reference and avoid going through the same frustrating situation.

I'll discuss my adventures in four parts. First the UV erasers, second the programmers, third the required software and last the actual process of programming. I hope that you will find all this useful if you have never used a programmer before. I also hope that you will share your experiences with your other kind of programmers. That is why the thread title ends with "and maybe others?", because your contributions are welcome. I only ask that you are very specific as far as model number, interface, software version and chip maker goes. All this can be of great help to beginners as well as advanced users.
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by EX5_etc » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:00 am

2: UV Erasers

The following picture shows two 27C800 chips made by the same manufacturer. They are the same capacity, however the speed of the left one is 50ns (faster response) while that of the right one is 100ns (slower response). The close up of the window shows small squares that in reality are surfaces of millions of transistors (very close to each other) that form the actual memory cells. The squares on the right EPROM remind me of a "2-page" book; I'll come back to this point in a moment. For all intends and purposes it is best to use chips with a speed of 100ns or lower (faster), such as 80ns, 70ns, etc.
01_Eprom_Win.jpg
The next picture shows the UV eraser that I use, the Datarase II. It sells for about $37 and it can erase four small chips at once. While the cover is open you will not be able to see the blue UV light even if the power switch is in the on position. Upon closing the cover a small pin closes an internal switch and the bulb turns on. This is done to protect the eyes from UV light. I pushed the switch with a toothpick to shows the way it looks when the cover closes. The EPROM chips are positioned perpendicular to the light bulb and facing it. The openings on the programmer and the openings of the chips must match for best results. That is why you see the notches on the sides of the holes, they are used to center the chips. When I erased the 27C800 I had to put it parallel to the bulb because it did not fit otherwise due to its size. In addition the way you position the "2-pages" over one of the two big openings matters because they are not exactly centered on the chip.
02_UV_Eraser.jpg
I leave the eraser on for 30 minutes, enough time to be sure that everything is erased. Others have reported that it only takes a few seconds, some that it takes 15 minutes, etc. I have been told that as the chips age, the time exposure to UV light increases because the required energy to "clear" the transistors increases. Sometimes I use the eraser with an external timer that cuts the power off, thus protecting the UV bulb from long operational periods that decrease its life-span.

If the price of this eraser seems high you can check the $16 erasers on ebay. They feature a 6-minute timer and the power supply is inside the unit, while with the Datarase II it is connected outside the unit. I never owned or used one of those and thus I have no idea as to how well they work.
03_UV_6min.jpg
What about some DIY? Depending on where you are located you may have access to parts like those shown in the following picture. The fluorescent white light bulb can be replaced with a black light bulb that in effect emits UV light we cannot see with our eyes. The parts should cost less than $16 if you know where to search for them. Put the EPROM chip under that fixture, cover with an empty box and let it work. For how long? I have no idea, you will have to find the answer by means of trial and error.
04_UV_DIY.jpg
Last edited by EX5_etc on Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by EX5_etc » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:09 am

3: The Willem Programmer

If you start searching the internet for Willem programmers you will soon discover that there are many versions of an original design that must still be somewhere out there. Unfortunately some of those versions do not work with the 27C800, I found out the hard way. When I bought my first Willem, version 4.5, I did not check in detail what it could do. A few months ago I noticed that it failed to program six 27C800 chips properly. I tried changing jumpers and software settings but everything failed, even a 27C64 smaller capacity chip.

Failure with one or two chips can be perceived as a normal condition. Failure with six is an indication that something sinister is going on. So I went searching and a few days later I was convinced (based on the available information) that version 4.5 could not handle the 27C800 chips. There were problems with the dc converter on the 4.5 PCB. They could probably be fixed but at that point I had wasted a lot of time and did not want to waste even more. In addition to this conclusion my search had revealed that a newer version, 5.0, could handle the 27C800 chips mainly because the DC converter had been re-designed and a potentiometer had been added that allowed the user to control the programming voltage. So, I ordered one.

The 4.5 PCB had come from Sivava.com, a manufacturer that tries to pass themselves as the "official" supplier of the Willem programmers. There is no such thing in my opinion. Someone stole (sorry, I meant copied) the original design, made a few changes and then sold the final product as their own newly and better designed programmer. Lots of Chinese manufacturers followed and the beginning of the story was lost somewhere there. It's not important. The picture below shows the new 5.0 programmer I received by some chinese seller. Keep in mind that there are at least three different 5.0 versions out there but only one with the blue potentiometer. It is located near the top right corner. The PCB is inscribed with "2010 PCB 50" on the bottom edge, indicating a design made back in 2010. Old but still good. As it may be obvious, this is an experimental product and it comes without a container or chassis. The user must take precautions not to short anything when the programmer is powered up.

Upon inspection I noticed that its condition was not as good as that of the 4.5 programmer I had bought. There were scratches all over the board and it had a rather dull look to it. Thus I used a black permanent marker to cover the scratches, replaced the cover of the ZIF socket with that from the 4.5 PCB, replaced all the black jumpers with the gold/silver ones from the 4.5 PCB, straighten up some components that were bend during shipment and finally added (after some fabrication) the bottom protective board from the 4.5 because the 5.0 does not come with one. That is what the picture shows, not its original condition. Sivava did a much better job with shipping and protecting their product. There are videos on Youtube showing the unpacking of a Sivava product and there you can see the difference. The four empty IC sockets next to the two square PLCCs are of lower quality compared to the ones on the Sivava programmer.
05_Willem.jpg
Sivava'a product however did not work for me. Years ago along with the 4.5 PCB I had bought a Sivava 40-to-42 adapter for the EPROMs I wanted to program. The adapter is shown below. It comes with a ribbon cable and two flat connectors that must be inserted to the headers on the bottom side. They raise the adapter enough so as not to touch the main programmer when you insert it in the ZIF socket.
06_27C_adpt.jpg
The 42-pin 27Cxxx adapter was not meant for the 5.0 PCB design but it worked flawlessly when I tried it out. These days the adapter is still available but newer designs have shown up. One of those designs features a ZIF socket that allows for easy insertion of the EPROM chips. In my case I have to make sure that all the pins of the EPROM chip are straight and in the right position before I push the chip into the socket of the adapter. For additional protection from shorts I insert a piece of thick paper between the two sandwiched boards, because the locked ZIF socket does not apply enough force to keep the adapter from moving if by accident it is pressed down.
07_Willem_27C.jpg
The programmer can be powered in two ways: either through the USB socket with 5V or through an external DC power supply. The seller supplied the USB cable as well as the parallel port cable but no power supply. Sivava did not provide a power supply with my first programmer either. I never used the USB cable but others claim that it works well. I used the DC input and an HP F1140A brick. It provides 5A at 12V but there is a catch. The power connector pins are reversed with a negative center pin. The user must open the brick and reverse the wires of the DC connector. Those 60W power supplies are pretty good and they sell for about $15 on ebay. They are made by Delta as far as I know. The 27C800 EPROM draws a decent amount of current during programming and thus a good power supply is needed. I did not buy the HP one for the programmer, I had it in my box of power supplies. However a prospective user must add this to the cost of the 5.0 PCB that sells for about $30 if their USB connection fails to supply enough current. That HP brick is not the only option of course. I tried a smaller 12V, 1.5A brick from an external Western Digital 3.5" hard drive. It also worked well, occupied less space on my workbench and costs around $6 on ebay. Basically I think that a 12V, 2A power supply with a 2.5mm center positive tip will cover anyone's needs when using the Willem programmer.

The picture of the 5.0 programmer above shows the jumper settings that worked for me. Using a small screwdriver on the blue potentiometer I set the output voltage on the ZIF socket (between pins 1 and 16) at 12.8V. It can go higher but that was not necessary. The programming procedure and software settings are in the next sections. That is actually the "difficult" part of the whole process; setting up the hardware is way easier if you know what you are doing. You need to have the proper software running in order to do the voltage regulation process. Details follow.

Normally I would stop the hardware discussion here but there is more, just for you folks. I spent many days searching about the 5.0 design and I was able to locate a thread where a poster had attached the circuit diagram of the 5.0 PCB. The pdf of the schematic is attached below and the original thread is here:

http://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/show ... hp?t=73010
Willem PCB50.pdf
(138.83 KiB) Downloaded 407 times
Last edited by EX5_etc on Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by EX5_etc » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:15 am

4: The Software

The required software for the operation of the programmer is free and though it is supposedly made for a different 5.0 hardware version it works very well with the programmer I describe here. Of course "works" was a matter of speech for some time until I finally figured out how to make it work. I have to thank all the other users before me that contributed their knowledge and pain to make the software usable.

As of this writing, the latest Willem freeware version is 0.98D12. You can download it from sivava.com or you can use the attached file:
setup_PCB50_98D12a.zip
(728.96 KiB) Downloaded 378 times
If by any chance there is a "C1", "C3", etc, next to its name you may have problems later. Thus avoid those software versions. After you download it, unzip the file to a temporary directory of your choice and then use the extracted "setup_PCB50_98D12a.exe" file to install the software on your parallel port equipped PC. It only takes a few seconds if you simply agree on every prompt it gives you. The executable file path should be "C:\Program Files (x86)\EPROM50\EpromM51.exe", where you will find the 1751kB "exe" file along with some library and the un-installer. Do not start the installed software until you have completed all the steps below. If you do you will see error messages and the only way to get out of that situation is "Ctrl+Alt+Delete" and the Task Manager. There are claims that 0.98D12 works without issues under Win7 but that is not what I saw.

I do need to mention here that USB-to-parallel port adapters do not work, according to information found on the internet. A full-size PCI parallel card will work, a PCMCIA parallel card probably won't work and an ExpressCard parallel card won't work. Of course you can try as all this is a hypothesis. If you have any positive results please post them here.

The software should work under Win2000 and WinXP without problems. In case that you have an even older Win98 computer in your arsenal (I do) it is better to install the software there and use it right away. Unfortunately a blown electrolytic capacitor on the internal power supply made that computer useless for a few days. I'll discuss this on a different thread. The only other computer with a parallel port was a portable Dell Latitude with a special dock that has on it almost every port ever existed (except SCSI) and Win7, 64-bit. That operating system was a completely different animal to handle.

So here is what you need to do for the 0.98D12 software to work under Win7. Download the freeware tvicport.zip from this link (both 32-bit and 64-bit):

http://www.entechtaiwan.com/dev/port/index.shtm

or use the attached file:
tvicport.zip
(365.4 KiB) Downloaded 176 times
Simply unzip it to a temporary directory of your choice and then use the extracted "TVicPortInstall41.exe" file to install TVicPort to your parallel port equipped PC. It only takes a few seconds if you simply agree on every prompt it gives you. Then you must restart your computer.

After that step you must download the "Remapped-IO.DLL-64-bit-using-TVicPort.zip" file from here:

http://www.downtowndougbrown.com/2010/1 ... -7-64-bit/

or use the attached file:
Remapped-IO.DLL-64-bit-using-TVicPort.zip
(11.25 KiB) Downloaded 167 times
Simply unzip it to a temporary directory of your choice and then check if files "io.dll" and "io.ini" are there (8kB and 1kB respectively). Replace the current 46kB "io.dll" file in your Willem directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\EPROM50 on my Dell) with the new 8kB version. Then open the "io.ini" file mentioned here and modify it (if necessary) to contain the I/O base address for your parallel port (normally 0x378 but that depends on your system; the Device Manager can supply this information). After you check/modify the "io.ini" file copy it into the Willem install directory, right next to the 8kB "io.dll" file.

That's it. No restart is required. You can now start the Willem 0.98D12 software and check the main page. You may have to configure it to use LPT1 (0x378).
Last edited by EX5_etc on Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by EX5_etc » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:18 am

5: Programming the 27C800 EPROM

If you are still reading it means you are interested in using this product. Good for you. Here is the programming process, the only part of this writing that will be repeated in the future when you program your chips.

1. After you turn on your PC and start the 0.98D12 software you must connect the programmer to the parallel port with the supplied cable.

2. Plug in the external 12V power supply to the programmer. You may see that either 2 or all 4 of the programmer's LEDs are lit. Even before you plug the power supply in, the power LED will be on because it draws power from your computer.

3. Under the "Help" menu select "Test Hardware" and observe the two adjacent LEDs (VCC and VPP) on the lower left corner. They should flicker temporarily and a "Hardware Present" message should appear on the status bar of the software's window. If that is not the case you are in real trouble. Trace ALL of the above steps, check the power supply, check the cable, etc.

4. Click on the "Test H/W" tab (near the status bar) and on the "ZIF 32PIN" chart check only the "1-Vpp" square. A few things will automatically change and that's fine. Do not change anything else. Then with a multimeter measure the voltage between pins 1 and 16 on the ZIF socket, as shown in the picture earlier on this long post. If the voltage is less than 12.8V DC, use a small screwdriver on the blue potentiometer and adjust it until you read that value. It's your programming voltage.

5. Go to the "Device" tab and select 27C800 under the "Device" menu. You will see the message "Require Adapter EPROM 16bit(DIP42)" on your screen. Additionally you will see that the 12 DIP switches graphic changes from what it was before. You must then match the positions of the real 12 DIP switches on the programmer to those on the graphic, by means of a small screwdriver or other small tool. The power must be ON while you perform this operation.

6. Insert the 27C800 on the socket of the adapter. Some pins won't go in so use your fingers or small tools to help with the insertion. Do not push hard if you feel resistance, you may bend and break the pins. Check for the proper orientation of the chip's notch to that of the graphic on the adapter.

7. Attach the ribbon cable to the adapter and then to the programmer. Put a thick piece of paper or plastic between the adapter and the programmer PCB. Finally, insert the adapter to the ZIF socket and lock the lever. If the paper or plastic is not there and you press the adapter too hard it will short with some components on the bottom board. That would be bad because you do all this while the power is always on. Check that your setup matches the "sandwich" picture above.

8. Load the ".bin" or ".hex" file to be burned to the EPROM chip. Remember that the chip must have been erased according to the instructions on section 2 above. Under "Action" menu select "Program/Test RAM" and let it do its work while you pray that everything will go well. A progress bar will appear and the whole write/verify process should take 5-6 minutes with a 27C800 chip and a 1MB bin/hex file. It may take less or more with other chips.

9. When the process is finished the VCC and VPP LEDs will turn off. You can unlock the adapter and disconnect it completely from the programmer while the power is still on. Remove the chip from the adapter and test it with your device (synthesizer, sampler, etc)to make sure it works properly. After that you may stick a piece of black tape or other non-transparent material on its window.

10. Turn the external power supply off, unplug the programmer, quit the program and turn off your computer or use it for whatever else is in your mind.

You are done, you are now officially an EPROM nerd.
Last edited by EX5_etc on Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:30 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by EX5_etc » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:21 am

6: Conclusion

Not much to say in this section. It is obvious that programming an EPROM is not something trivial as is today with EEPROMs and flash memories where we download a file from the web and simply upload it to our device with a USB cable, thus upgrading our firmware or whatever. Working with EPROMs is vintage stuff. You may even say that it gives you some prestige among the other fellows out there, but that's just me talking. :)

Anyhow, that's all. If you have questions or comments feel free to share them. Most importantly share your experiences with other EPROM programmers if you can. It helps.

Regards,
DrF
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by Derek » Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:11 am

Looks very comprehensive, DRF, for those looking at doing EPROM programming for the first time.

Thanks. :)
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by tux » Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:52 am

I just found this USB programmer which has 48 pins natively and there is even open source software available for it. Granted it costs more than a Willem+adapter or more than the 40-pin Top853 that I have but for a 48-pin USB programmer the price is still very reasonable:
TOP2049: http://aidetek.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Scr ... Programmer
The open source software for it is available here:
http://bues.ch/cms/hacking/toprammer.html
Does anyone have any experience with this one?
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by EX5_etc » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:08 pm

Derek wrote:Looks very comprehensive, DRF, for those looking at doing EPROM programming for the first time.

Thanks. :)
It had to be. The "manuals" included with the CD that came with the programmer were not of much help. Very bad writing that appeared to be a google translated output. Not to mention that the CD had some files suspiciously bigger than the versions I downloaded from legitimate online sites. Certain comments I found during my search claimed that ebay had banned a few sellers for distributing CDs with viruses and trojans with those programmers.
tux wrote:I just found this USB programmer which has 48 pins natively and there is even open source software available for it. Granted it costs more than a Willem+adapter or more than the 40-pin Top853 that I have but for a 48-pin USB programmer the price is still very reasonable.
Plus, you have no switches and jumpers to set and a full year of warranty. No warranty on ebay stuff. But there might be a catch. The Willem programmer allows the user to replace ALL of its ICs in case they stop functioning properly and they are really cheap, TTL gates and such, from the CD4XXX and 74XX series. The TOP2049 must be using some kind of a microcontroller that may or may not be replaceable. That is the only way to avoid setting switches ans jumpers. Who knows...

DrF
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by tux » Sat Nov 01, 2014 1:36 am

EX5_etc wrote:you have no switches and jumpers to set
I consider that a plus point, last time I had to set a jumper on a PC or any other electronic device must have been at least 15 years ago... :wink:
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by jima » Sat Nov 01, 2014 6:28 pm

Hope nobody minds if I chime in here. I looked at the Willem range and found it simply confusing with all of the different variants and options. I opted to buy a TOP2048 with all of the reservations mentioned by DrF but over 2 years or more later it still performs perfectly so here is the bottom line:

If you want to become an expert in EPROM programmer design buy a Willem variant. If you just want to program EPROM's buy something like the TOP2049. The extra money you will pay will be more than compensated by the time you save getting it to do exactly what you want.

My credentials for this discussion - I designed, built and sold rights for an EPROM programmer add-on for a Nascom-2 back in the day. I know there are people here who will realise what that means :)

As for jumpers... wasn't that a film with what's-his-name from Star Wars in it?

P.S. I have one of the '$16' eBay UV erasers and it works just fine. It arrived with a broken UV tube but a few pounds later for a compatible germicidal UV tube from a UK supplier put it in good order. It certainly beats a 2708 in front of a health lamp for four hours with a hair-dryer set to cool to blowing on it to stop it melting 8O
Jim
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tux
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by tux » Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:13 pm

jima wrote: It certainly beats a 2708 in front of a health lamp for four hours with a hair-dryer set to cool to blowing on it to stop it melting 8O
That's why so far I have been buying compatible EEPROMs and FlashPROMs, there is no need to still use old fashioned UV erasable EPROMs when there are far more convenient compatible alternatives out there (unless you still have old stock of UV erasable EPROMs lying around).
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by jima » Sat Nov 01, 2014 9:22 pm

tux wrote: (unless you still have old stock of UV erasable EPROMs lying around).
:-)
Jim
Yamaha EX5, AN1X, TG500, Moog Werkstatt, Korg Wavestation SR, Sigma, Legacy Digital, Nord Modular G2, G2 Engine, Focusrite PRO 40, MIDISPORT 8x8/s, Uno, Arturia BeatStep, V Collection, Pigments | Love keyboards but so little time :(
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by Miks » Sat Nov 01, 2014 9:52 pm

Well... here's what I have laying around :wink:

A Batronix BX 32 Batupo I - takes devicecs up to 32 pins. USB-powered by the host PC.
No. of supported Manufacturers: 55
No. of supported Device Variants: 11.520 (as of Oct. 15, 2014) Both these values are valid for the BX 32 Batupo II !

A Batronix BX 48 Batego I - takes devices up to 48 pins. USB-powered by the host PC.
No. of supported Manufacturers: 80
No. of supported Device Variants: 38.704 (as of Oct. 15, 2014). Both these values are valid for the BX48 Batego II !

The software is freeware, a product of Batronix and only working with Batronix eprom programmers. The software is regularly updated and also contains the firmware updates for all of the Batronix programmers (should the need arise).

The BX 32 was a winning bid on eBay for a reasonable price. It is able to program older eproms which require a higher programming voltage (up to 21 volts IIRC...) which the BX 48 Batego I wasn't able to...

The BX 48 was bought for programming purposes on devices with more than 32 pins... i.e. EX5 eproms 8)

I like it the easy way - plug'n'play - no jumper settings and all that stuff 8O
That's why I chose the 'ready to go' version in eprom programming... :wink:

BTW: I'm NOT affiliated with Batronix :D

The eprom eraser was a real bargain - someone threw it away! I took the chance and 'saved' it from the bin - and guess what! it was in perfect working order and still is!!!
It's fitted with two UV lamps and a mechanical timer allowing erasing times up to 60 mins. The drawer can take up to 8 eproms - if you pull out the drawer while operating a safety switch immideately turns off the UV lamps (as usual :wink: )
Epromer & Eraser2.JPG
tux wrote:
(unless you still have old stock of UV erasable EPROMs lying around)
:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: ... several hundreds (in all - I'm not kiddin')
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Re: EPROM Programmers: Willem and maybe others?

Unread post by jhulk » Sat Nov 01, 2014 10:28 pm

i use a gq-4x which is a 40 pin

it does not use any jumpers its all done in software

but its no good for gal/pal burning i had to get a separate machine for that

plus there are some ic like the mask roms that have swapped pins for these you have to make up adapters for these
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